It took me some time to answer this question, which is a play of ego in itself, if I don’t see how every day I get caught in some identification with myself. I gave the question some thought offline.
As an artist, I feel I get caught in my ego each time I make something and think, this is good. I am equally caught in my ego each time I make something and think, this is no good, this is awful. The value judgements I place on my creations, I think, are me over-identifying with the work itself.
Similarly, as someone who is not far from the beginning of their spiritual path… Some days, when I am doing well, meditating and feeling at peace, I think, oh, okay so I can help people, I can teach others. (And then the next day when I can’t focus or meditate or I eat too much, I wonder if I’ll ever get it together.) I think these are also examples of being caught in my ego. But I am perplexed always in the former, I want to be able to help or teach people, but how to do that without the ego attached?
Thanks Rachael and indeed it is an ongoing journey! Thats a very astute observation by that comedian.
When part of a dogmatic religion, we fasted for 24 hours several times a year without food or (supposedly) water. I was never very good at the “without water” part, and still found myself judging those who didn’t fast for a FULL 24 hours (like me) to be “unfaithful.” Unfortunately, those who I found “lacking” included some of my closest loves. I’m seeing more clearly, so that is good. But what helps me most is now having embraced an UNdogmatic kind of faith, one which allows us each to seek out and work with whatever ways/methods work for us individually, for now. This is such fresh, pure air for me.
When, in this example, I was judging others I was actually either judging myself vicariously (for I often failed at hitting the 24-hour mark, focused on entirely the wrong aspect of fasting), or I was offering myself an out: as long as I made it longer than those around me, wasn’t my effort superior? This is so yucky. Such ego. I enjoy seeing this so clearly, and even more, I’m happy that my tendency to judge others is greatly diminished.
I look forward to my ego disappearing altogether. I see it now as a shield against truth and reality.
I was like that early on in my spiritual journey, we want to share our joy and help others find theirs. Sw Satchidananda says we must teach by example and those who are ready will awaken and those who are not maybe a seed is planted.
I have a really hard time when I know someone else is at fault, and if I am accused of their mistakes, I can not let it go. I tend to have the last word and point out that I was right and they were wrong. Something I have been trying to be more mindful of is we all are human, but this definitely is still hard for me to give grace freely.
I often project my insecurities onto others but in a dismissive way. I was raised in a devout Christian household, but it never really made any sense to me. Then, I followed a more scientific belief structure, but that did not speak to my soul. Many times in my new found spiritual path I find myself thinking; “that sounds so granola” dismissing ideas as too far out. Now i see this is just me pushing things away because i dont quite get it yet. I am learning to explore my reactions and sit with them to see what is really happening
I’m frequently caught in my ego, but the best example of this is when I wallow in the extra pounds I gained recently. I judge myself harshly, especially since I was feeling so proud to have lost those pounds. No root beer I need to let go of the judgment and the cinnamon gummy bears and accept that I’m going to fall and that all I can control is here and now; however, I don’t “control” that either. I need to work on letting go of the huge amount of time in my life that I’ve spent on my weight, do my best to be gentle with myself, and, when I fall down, come back to the pillow and let it all dissolve and start again to make good choices right now, not beat myself up for past choices. There are so many better ways to spend my time- like this course, thank you!
Like so many others have said, being strictly vegetarian and feeling others who don’t or aren’t somehow lack the spiritual awareness to be so. Then needing to eat meat on occasions, for my health, and finding Ram Dass’ teachings about eating meat (and it being more about attachment) and feeling silly. Feeling smug about having practices that I feel are wonderful and helpful, and so when I see someone struggling who doesn’t do such things I think I may know better. When, really, I know nothing about whatever their journey is about.
An example of “a time” when I was caught in my ego? When am I not caught in it, at least to some extent? My spiritual development is a matter of progress, not perfection, as I imagine it is for most of us. Though I am far less self-absorbed, overtly at least, than I was in my decades of addiction, the ego is a sneaky snare and mine asserts itself in roundabout ways. For instance, I try to help my clients in treatment, all of whom are more or less where I was 10 years ago, and my intention is to aid them in non-egoic ways, but many times instead of truly listening to them I realize that I’m talking at them, “blessing” them with all of my so-called wisdom about sobriety and spirituality. I’m often full of crap, of course, though the clients tell me I’m helping them.
What helps me navigate these rocky shoals? Having a sense of humor about my own shortcomings, I suppose. Having as much compassion for myself as I have for my clients and for all suffering beings (which means all beings).
I’ll never be ego-less, but hopefully through daily practice and engagement with communities like this one I can manage to keep ego out of “first position.”
It’s all better than it used to be, that’s for sure.
Helll beautiful people
Yes, I have fallen off the wagon many time & still do…
My EGO loves to sneak in & attempt to convince me of how satisfying it will be…
Whether it’s because I am about to get up from my cozy bed & go into meditation or eating something that may not be good for my body or wanting to help someone out of pure self gratification…
Yes, I witness myself & wrestle to get up or redirect my point of view…
My spiritual practice has helped me become more MINDFUL so I can Get Up after the fall & begin again…
Grateful for this spiritual practice
Great points. I find careers can reinforce this reactivity. Balancing internal and external expectations with internal & external capabilities, resources, and priorities.
Consumption is both an ethical and spiritual practice with significant implications. Many take on spiritual practices as part of their dietary practice; unfortunately this often reifies the ego instead of the spiritual practice. There are may internal and external vectors influencing any adjustment. It’s worth the effort, but requires wisdom.
I can relate. I’ve sought to avoid the ego trip, essentially telling no one of my practice. Artifacts at home may initiate some discussions, but I keep it simple.
I seem to observe conceit in my own practice when I see it in others. I try to walk the middle way, but it can be challenging when teachers role model conceit.
Yup! I went raw a while back, and would feel suck judgment towards other people that didn’t eat that way. Then I was so riddled with anxiety I would binge eat non-raw stuff…
In a weird constant battle of ego right now. My mom has recently been on a weight loss journey, and took up mindfulness practices to try and help her through some stuff. So now I see her post on the internet about how great her program is, and she’s so happy… meanwhile I get text messages about her complaining about everything under the sun. I catch myself all the time thinking “mindfulness stuff is going great I see!”…
So true. Mindfulness is not about holding expectations. It is observing the ebbs and flow, ups and downs. Not attaching to it. Not reacting to it. Gaining insight into our practice and our behavior that can be applied in life as a result. Next time we feel snacky, differentiating ‘real’ hunger from ‘cravings’ that don’t need to be fed… And making healthier choices (food, activities, etc) along the way.
Thank you for sharing this! The level of self-awareness you display here shows your spiritual practice is working. And being self-aware of the ego is a big first step. I also find myself trying to share my spiritual views with others to help them, and I wonder if they want to receive this wisdom, or if I am just wanting to give it (and that’s my ego).
Love that you have that sense of humor about your own shortcomings, that is so crucial in so many avenues of life. And the self-compassion!
That was me most of my life - well half of it at this point, I guess. Oh, how well I remember endless arguments to prove I was right. Such a relief, such an interesting interaction when being right is no longer necessary. Thanks for sharing